Democrats are reacting to President Trump like it’s the end of times. But are they going overboard?
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed the feelings of many in his party by claiming the US would face a “constitutional crisis” if President Trump were to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Warner told CNBC he hopes the President does not fire Mueller, whom he defended against criticism from Congressional Republicans and the conservative media.
“When Bob Mueller was appointed, he was greeted with universal acclaim,” Warner said. “I think it’s not fair. I think it’s not right. I think it’s frankly cheap shots when some of these Republican colleagues would question Mueller’s integrity.”
Warner argued “And if you were to see a firing, I think you would see a constitutional crisis.”
But Warner asserted it’s up to President Trump to decide whether such a crisis occurs, and urged him to let the Special Counsel investigation take its course.
Asked about whether a constitutional crisis is inevitable, Warner responded:
“I think that is going to be up to what this president does or doesn’t do. I mean, if this president allows this investigation to come to its conclusion and either bring charges or not, then I think the system will have worked as our founders intended. If they pull on one of these threads as a reason to fire Mueller, I think it will be a political disaster for the president, and I believe it will be a constitutional crisis.”
The President’s detractors voiced concerns that he was considering firing Special Counsel Mueller after a Trump lawyer accused Mueller of violating attorney-client privilege when he obtained transition team emails.
President Trump denied he plans to fire Mueller. But the possibility raised the question about the President’s authority to do so, and whether a dismissal of the Special Counsel would indeed provoke a “constitutional crisis.”
Such a move might cause a political crisis, in that it would prompt President Trump’s opponents to further accuse him of obstructing justice. But constitutionally, there would be nothing wrong with the President firing Mueller.
Democrats point to Department of Justice regulations that say President Trump cannot directly fire the Special Counsel. According to this policy, the President would have to ask Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to do the firing. If Rosenstein refused, President Trump would first have to fire him.
But the regulations laying out that procedure are not found in the Constitution. Article II of the US Constitution gives the President full executive power. He can dismiss officers of the executive branch at will.
Thus, President Trump is not bound by the rules Democrats want to hold him to, although he may choose to follow them for the sake of politics.
It may help Democrats to give the Constitution another good read.